The phase behavior of mixtures of phospholipids and detergents in aqueous solutions is an issue of basic importance for understanding the solubilization and reconstitution of biological membranes. We review the existing knowledge on the compositionally induced reversible transformation of phospholipid bilayers into lipid-detergent mixed micelles. First, we describe the experimental protocols used for preparation of such mixtures and emphasize the scope and limitations of the various techniques used for evaluation of the microstructures of the self-assembled amphiphiles in the mixture. Subsequently, we interpret the existing data in terms of the spontaneous curvature of the amphiphiles and the finite size of the mixed micelles. These considerations lead to a general description of the phase behavior, which forms the basis for a rational approach to solubilization and reconstitution experiments. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
- Re constitution